To any member of the tech media, Techmeme is the first site you visit in the morning, and the last site you check before bed. It’s a thermometer of today’s news, with more context per headline than any single news source can offer. This is the beauty of aggregation, which some more traditional media outlets frown upon.
But founder and CEO Gabe Rivera has been doing this since 2004, and has incredible insight into the differences between old media and the young guns. I grabbed him backstage during Disrupt NYC 2012 after his panel on the tech media to see how he felt about new media’s dependance on sources like The New York Times, the myth of objectivity, the difference between click bait and link bait (if there is one), and his personal source preference when he sits down with a cup of coffee to read the day’s news.
“In the area we cover, I think we could do pretty well without [traditional media],” said Rivera. “It’s a very artificial experiment but if they disappeared overnight, I think that the remaining tech sites would cover everything just fine. I think some of the financial stories would be the exception to that, but all these blogs would reorganize very quickly to cover that.”
But one of the most glaring differences between new and traditional media is their views on objectivity. While old media holds true to a bias-less existence, blogs offer news through the filter of an expert, injecting opinion when necessary. Rivera believes that the beauty of aggregation (also new media) is that you can offer both point A and point B almost simultaneously and adjacently so the reader has as much context as they desire.
In the interview, Rivera also discusses the difference between link bait and click bait, and how Twitter makes it really simple to disguise a story within the headline.
Rivera said that his personal preference changes based on the content itself. Some days he doesn’t read very much news at all, despite the fact that Techmeme reads just about everything. But on days when he’s consuming current events, it all depends on the story type and who’s breaking it.
“The site that has industry people as its target readership will contextualize in a way that’s more meaningful to me,” said Rivera. “That’s usually TechCrunch or AllThingsD. Once in a while, the New York Times will uncover the story and have enough exposure to the details first so that they have the best account. For the first half hour, at least.”
TechMeme works by constantly checking blogs and other news sites to create a page full of the current most popular tech news links. The list of sites TechMeme monitors is constructed automatically and changes in real time based on linking. A small “seeding” list, constructed by creator Gabe Rivera, is used to help the system build the complete list. Stories are placed based on their importance. Importance depends on a number of factors, including links and how old the story...
Gabe Rivera is the founder and CEO of Techmeme, the tech industry’s leading news aggregator. He enjoys cooking, napping, and encouraging people to fight each other online. He’s not a jerk, but plays one on Twitter. Gabe was included in Time’s 140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2013 and Businessweek’s 25 Most Influential People on the Web. Before starting Techmeme, Gabe worked in Intel’s compiler group, and prior to that, researched compilers at the University of Maryland. Born in New...